Ground-breaking new global initiative to accelerate youth activism in the digital age

  • New programme to support youth tackling major social issues through data collection
  • Initiative will amplify activists’ work and hold leaders accountable
  • Selected activists will receive up to $30,000 in financial and other assistance
  • Prominent global foundations among members of partnership supporting initiative

A first-of-its-kind global programme has been launched to support young activists accelerate their campaigns for social change, through data collection and storytelling. 

The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator will offer young people and youth-led organisations already working in the global South up to US$30,000 each in assistance including financial support, tailored technical advice, mentoring, and access to international training workshops and networking events. Selected projects will focus on tackling poverty, hunger, health and wellbeing, education, gender equality, and water and sanitation challenges through data collection and visualisation.

Launched today by a partnership of prominent international organisations, led global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, the year-long initiative seeks to accelerate young people’s current work and influence decision makers. Applications for the Accelerator open today, 26 September and close on 31 October. The announcement was made by United Nations Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s second annual Goalkeepers event in in New York City.

Up to 30 individual activists, aged between 18 and 35, and youth-led organisations working on projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, will be selected to participate in the Youth Action Accelerator, beginning in January 2019. Priority given to applicants from Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator is so absolutely critical right now,” said Max Seunik, member of the advisory committee made of up partner representatives,

who will help select activists already working to fix urgent development problems and take leaders to task using data collection and storytelling.

“What we lack isn’t ideas or imagination – it’s the resources to realise our visions for solutions to local development challenges and the means to influence decision-making,” said Seunik.

“The Accelerator is a challenge to the status quo and an exciting opportunity for young people to access data, skills – and most importantly – resources to take action, and ultimately shift power structures.”   

CIVICUS is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Restless Development, Action for Sustainable Development, the Bush Institute and the Obama Foundation, to enable youth – through the Accelerator – youth to influence decision makers including governments, the private sector and citizens.

The grantees will collect data from their communities or turn existing data into campaigns reflecting the Accelerator’s two themes: data sourcing and accountability, and data translation and storytelling.

The Accelerator participants will meet three times next year – at an introductory workshop in Tanzania in January, at the CIVICUS Youth Assembly in Serbia in April, and around the UN General Assembly in September.

Throughout the year, they will be mentored during bi-monthly online calls and benefit from the knowledge of experts chosen by Accelerator partners; share information with each other; and create a networking community.

Martha D. Angga, a CIVICUS Youth Action Team member who will also help identify and select grantees, said youth participation in society was crucial for sustainable development, freedom of expression and democracy.

“The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator is a great avenue for youth leaders to become a partner in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), not just an object of development,” said Angga.

CIVICUS – a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists with more than 4,500 members in over 175 countries – will measure the impact of participants’ campaigns and the overall Accelerator using an adaptive learning approach to help participant’s track the social change resulting from their projects. This approach will also help participants to generate real-time learning as they test, implement and adjust their projects to deepen impact within their communities.

Grantees will be announced at the end of November.

Activists can apply here.

Goalkeepers is a multiyear campaign dedicated to accelerating progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals). Using powerful stories, data, and partnerships, Goalkeepers highlights progress achieved, holds governments accountable, and brings together a new generation of leaders to address the world’s major challenges.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Elisa Novoa